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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Recommended Reading: Praying the Scriptures by Christopher Hayden

I've only gone 1/3 into the book, but I love what I've read so far. I hope to practice the lectio divina from now on (as soon as I've mastered it, that is). That roughly translates to divine reading, but it also means a few other things, such as gathering or collecting from the divine, as the author explains. He stresses that Scripture is an invitation to us. It is God speaking to us, reflected by the many invitations to listen: shema!. This verb is "one of the most frequently recurring in the entire Bible." The author goes on to say that it doesn't end here. "The end is prayer, a relationship with God, growth in discipleship." Early in the book, the author stresses that prayer is relationship with God. A good relationship requires a great deal of listening - for us! A relationship is fundamentally doomed if the parties are only interested in hearing their own voices. I can also relate as a father: how frustrating it must be for God the Father when we are bawling in misery over some apparent catastrophe, when it is precisely at that time when we should quiet down and listen to Him, because He just wants to make it all better. There are other things that constitute a good relationship, too. Sharing a meal is a common way to do this, and praise God, He provided us with such a one as befits His divinity: The Eucharist, the communion with the body and blood of Christ. It is a physical intimacy that is unique to the Eucharist. It reflects the Lamb's supper, with its beautiful vision given to us in the book of Revelations. The Eucharist is prayer. The highest form of prayer, Catholics are taught, is the celebration of the Eucharist, for it is a very serious relationship. It is a communion: The chalice of benediction which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? And the bread which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord? For we, being many, are one bread, one body: all that partake of one bread. (1 Cor 10:16-17) That makes the Eucharist an all-in-one package, too, for it not only makes us one with Christ, it also makes us one with all the saints, as all Christians were referred to back then. One of the best articles I've read that explains this was this article by James Cardinal Gibbons. I'm amazed that what started out as a post on Scripture and prayer ends here with some texts on the Eucharist, but perhaps that is not so strange. If prayer is about relationship, then we can expect that there's more to it than Scripture. While Scripture is everything that Christians proclaim and more, i.e., inspired, revealed, profitable, God is so much more than can be put down into writing. While his revelation starts with Scripture, it doesn't end there. It ends in a relationship with us, for He is not only the teacher of Truth, He is Father, Son and Paraclete. Note: text emphasis above are mine.

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